I started the SketchWild blog in 2019 because, while there’s tons of great information and resources out there for urban sketchers, there’s comparatively little for those who want to sketch nature and animals. And that’s what I do. It’s a wonderful way to spend time in the outdoors and, when traveling, bring home special memories that can’t you can’t get any other way. It’s also a very particular way of observing the natural world. Animals are more challenging, but I can teach you how to sketch them, too.
The materials are simple and can be quite inexpensive. Any pen or pencil and a pad of paper will do to start. And starting is the big step. At SketchWild you’ll find information, resources and sources for pens, pencils, ink, paper, supports, ways to carry it all and tutorials to get you started. I invite you to give it a try!
A bit about me:
I’ve recently returned to pen and ink drawing and hand-lettering after a long hiatus while I focused on oil painting. It was the first media I used as a professional artist back in the mid-1970s, inspired by medieval calligraphy and the flowing Art Nouveau work of Alphonse Mucha. After a five-year stint working in a sign shop where I also learned graphic design, I freelanced until 1987, when I went back to school full-time for three years and earned a BFA Illustration at the Academy of Art University (then College), doing many of my assignments in pen and ink, sometimes with watercolor added for color. After school I returned to freelance graphic design and also illustration, using a mixed media technique for color work and pen and ink for black and white. In 1995 I had the opportunity to study oil painting privately with a local artist/teacher for two years and for the last twenty years have focused on that professionally. But I never entirely gave up pen and ink, carrying pens and a sketchbook on my travels to England, Germany, Portugal and Mongolia, along with many states, cities, parks and wildlife refuges in the USA.
My first love has always been nature. Even in cities, I’ve gravitated to the parks and zoos within them, particularly to sketch the animals, also my main subject as a painter.
While I happily carry Sakura and Copic pens and a couple of fountain pens when I sketch, dip pens started to beckon me back to where I began. They have a feel and make a line like nothing else. So I started buying pen nibs, vintage whenever possible, holders and a variety of inks. working mostly on Strathmore 300 vellum bristol. I go “old school” sometimes, sketching on location with dip pens and ink just like artists did in the 19th and early 20th century, before fountain pens, pigment pens, gel pens or any of the other means we use today to get ink on paper were available. So SketchWild is also about me getting to share what I’ve learned over most of a lifetime of working in a very special media like no other. Let me know in the comments what you’re particularly interested in and would like me blog about or create tutorials for.
Artists for Conservation, Signature Member
California Art Club, Associate Artist Member
Art Renewal Center, Member
Westhaven Center for the Arts
The Explorers Club, FN’14
Academy of Art College, BFA Illustration, 1989
Oxford University Christchurch, Summer Session, 1989
The Illustration Academy , 1990, 1991
Scott Christensen Ten Day Plein Air Intensive, 2004
Simon Combes’ Artist Safari, Kenya, 2004
Sequoia Park Zoo Conservation Lecture Series- “Art and Conservation in the Land of Blue Skies”, 2017
Explorers Club Public Lecture speaker- “Wildlife Art: Field to Studio” group exhibition, 2016
Explorers Club Flag 179- for the 3rd WildArt Mongolia Expedition
Artists for Conservation 9th Flag Expedition Grant, 2009- to study Mongolian argali mountain sheep and assist in the creation of a women’s felt crafts cooperative at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve
“Focus on Nature”, New York State Museum, 2019
“Magnificent Migrations: A Journey Through Central California”, California Art Club and the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, 2019
“International Exhibit of Nature in Art”, Artists for Conservation, 2018
“Wildlife Treasures”- juried exhibition, Nature Art Gallery and Museum, Sandhurst, England, UK, 2017
“Wildlife Art: Field to Studio”- a group exhibition at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, Connecticut, 2016
“My Mongolia: The Paintings of American Artist Susan Fox”- a solo exhibition at the National Museum of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, August 2013
The 2013 WildArt Mongolia Expedition group exhibition- Union of Mongolian Artists, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 2014
“Art and the Animal”- Society of Animal Artists, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016
“Fall Exhibition of Equine Art”- American Academy of Equine Art, 2009, 2011, 2012,, 2014, 2015, 2017
“Art and the Animal Kingdom”- Bennington Center for the Arts, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2015
“51st Annual Spring Juried Exhibition” – Redwood Art Association, 2009, Janie Walsh Memorial Painting Award
“Wild Things” – California Art Club, 2007, Juror’s Choice Award
“Art for the Parks – Top 100” – National Parks Foundation, 2003
“The Art of Seeing: Nature Revealed Through Illustration” – Oakland Museum of California, Natural Sciences Department, 2003, 2006
“Just Outside My Door: Flora and Fauna of Kane Ridge” – Solo exhibition, Humboldt State University Natural History Museum, June-August 2002
“California Species” juried show – Oakland Museum of California, Natural Sciences Department, September 30, 2000 through May 13, 2001
“Our Excellent Adventure: Three Wildlife Artists on the Road”, three-artist exhibition – William F. Cody Gallery, August, 2000
Artist’s Magazine Art Competition (Wildlife) – Finalist, 1991
Founder and President, Art Partnerships for Mongolian Conservation
The WildArt Mongolia Expeditions– a series of expeditions to different areas of Mongolia for the purpose of highlighting a variety of endangered species and habitats through art created on location and afterwards in the studio
Advisory Team Member, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve- art for fundraising; social media support
Argali Wildlife Research Center– research support by providing field photos
Altai Institute– research project art and photography; design services; art for fundraising
Kenya’s Wild Heritage, 1999
Roman Fort on Tyne, 2000
Climate Change at the Arctic’s Edge, 2002
Mongolian Argali, 2005
Humboldt State University Natural History Museum
Sequoia Park Zoo Foundation
Founder and Admin– The Art of Animal Fieldwork, Facebook group, 2017
You can visit it here. Only artists who draw, sketch, paint or sculpt are members, but anyone can see our posts.
Visual Notes for Architects and Designers by Paul Laseau; Wiley, 2011– A selection of my iPad drawings of live animals were used in the book to illustrate how an artist could use the iPad as a sketchbook.
The Pet Connection, June 2010– “Cultural Baggage”; blog post commissioned by best-selling author and journalist Gina Spadafori (“Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual”, “Dogs for Dummies” “Your Cat: The Owner’s Manual”, etc.) to educate her readers about the assumptions travelers carry with them when traveling to other countries, the specific example being the attitudes Americans have about pet dogs vs. how dogs are used and treated in a country like Mongolia.
Wildlife Art Journal, April 2010– “A Letter From: Fieldwork in the Ancient Kingdom of Chinggis Khan”; Article about my 2009 Artists for Conservation Flag Expedition, illustrated with a slide show of 26 images of drawings from my Expedition journal, photographs from the Expedition and my paintings; Wildlife Art Journal is an online publication dedicated to wildlife art and the artists who create it and which supports conservation through its blog and editorials.
Horse Art Magazine, Spring 2007– “The Horses of Mongolia, Part 1: Khomiin Tal”- Account of my 2006 journey to remote Zavkhan Aimag in western Mongolia to visit the third, most recent takhi release site, located in a river valley called Khomiin Tal.
Horse Art Magazine, Summer 2007– “The Horses of Mongolia, Part 2: Hustai National Park” Account of my second visit to Hustai National Park, the second takhi release site, in 2006, which is located two hours west of Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.
Horse Art Magazine, Fall 2007– “The Horses of Mongolia, Part 3: The Horses that Conquered the World” Account of the domestic Mongol horses, many of which have takhi blood; discusses the horse culture of the Mongols; the use and social behavior of domestic Mongol horses and their place in Mongol culture.